Drivers, start your engines! Orr Fellows were in for a wild ride at the last Business Leader Meeting. They had the unique opportunity to tour the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in addition to hearing from CEO, Mark Miles, and recent Vice President of Events, Allison Melangton, for Hulman & Co. Hulman's portfolio inclues the Motor Speedway and the IndyCar Series. Second-year Fellow, Kaleigh Solley, gives her first-hand account of this super-charged BLM.
The drive to this BLM was unlike any other I have had before. Rather than parking in a traditional parking lot, I arrived at this meeting by using the underpass into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A green light guided me to the correct lane as a sense of thrill overtook me. After a series of twists and turns the reality of what I was doing set in; I was driving on the internal road course for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The rare quietness of the track normally flooded with tires screeching and fans cheering, allowed me to reflect on this truly unique opportunity.
Listening to the backgrounds of BLM speakers is always awe inspiring, and this instance was no different. Both Mark Miles and Allison Melangton worked to bring Super Bowl XLVI to Indianapolis and ultimately impacted permanent change for the event and the larger Indianapolis community. They demonstrated to the Super Bowl Committee the expansive ways in which Indianapolis would bring together residents, tourists, and sports enthusiasts. Indianapolis vowed to play its strengths including its history of event planning, strong community spirit, and compact downtown. Super Bowl XLVI brought much more than just a short-lived football game to Indianapolis. It provided a powerful catalyst to advance broader civic goals, providing lasting social and economic value to Indianapolis. Their efforts defied media expectations of Indianapolis, making it a truly an iconic Super Bowl.
Hearing their story mirrored my feelings about Indianapolis in general. With my involvement in the Orr Fellowship and the city of Indianapolis, I feel that the work I do has the ability to positively impact the community. Making a difference is two-fold; I volunteer and lead philanthropic organizations, as well as work for a company that is tirelessly working to improve the status quo of their industry. Indy has a lot of these stellar companies and I feel lucky to have a front row seat to watching these successes. Being an Orr Fellow for the last 18 months has been the perfect way to experience and grow within a new city. The Orr Fellowship has been the primary vehicle for my own personal and professional growth, and I look forward to meeting the next class of Orr Fellows as they embark on this incredible journey.
When thinking about the value of the Orr Fellowship, I am reminded of the old fable, The Lumberjack Story.
There are two lumberjacks who cut wood for a living. They both had similar upbringing and size but one just happens to cut a lot more wood. One lumberjack works from dusk till dawn and will sometimes skip lunch. The other lumberjack, will start a little later and will take frequent breaks. So who cuts more wood? The one who works harder and longer? Wrong! The second one, who starts later and takes frequent breaks. One day, the first lumberjack was so fed up he went to the other lumberjack and yelled, “How do you cut more wood than me? I get up earlier and take hardly any breaks! What is your secret?!” The second lumberjack turns and smiles. “There is no secret. Every morning before I begin I simply take the time to sharpen my ax.”
What does this mean to the Orr Fellowship? That we can chop a lot more wood with half the effort? Well yes, but more specifically that we are sharpening our skills as the next generation of business leaders. This happens through one of the main components of the Orr Fellowship: professional development workshops. Every so often we get together as a class to sharpen a variety of skills as business leaders. Just a month ago we did a workshop on design thinking that taught us how to reach more innovative ideas in a group setting. Most recently, board of director member Mark Hill has organized a series of entrepreneurship classes in which outside business leaders share their startup advice with Fellows.
The Orr Fellowship offers some very unique opportunities to “sharpen your ax” to become a more effective leader and at a much faster pace. The next time you are working extra hard, ask yourself, how sharp is my ax?
Andrea Massimilian: Dance party that involved wine on a Monday night- it was spontaneous!
Emily Richards: Every time I TRY and fail to cook a meal
AM: No, she actually is great cook! I love it when she cooks...
Favorite thing to do as roommates?
ER: Brunch, Amen.
AM: Or movie nights. Those are a lot of fun!
Favorite item in your house?
ER: The wine bottle opener.
Broad ripple or downtown?
AM: Broad ripple!! But I do love how easy it is to get downtown.
ER: Broad Ripple :)
Song that describes the house-
ER: Shake it off!!
AM: Dang that's what I was gonna say...
Something others might not know about you or your house?
AM: Em can't eat dairy! But yet we have a lot of cheese our fridge? She buys it for the cooking... It's funny. One time she made a homemade pizza and half was soy cheese and the other half real cheese. She knows I can't give up my real cheese :)
ER: We somehow end up having great Monday nights?
Describe your house in one word:
ER: Cohesive (We're really great roommates.)
AM: Welcoming! (We love having people over.)
If you had to give each other a superlative what would it be?
AM: Teacher's pet.
ER: Yours would be Best Laugh.
AM: I have such an obnoxious laugh...
ER: No it's the best! It's one of those that makes everyone else laugh- it's infectious.
What do you think each other's aspirations are?
AM: Now I feel the pressure ... Em's going to be one of those women that kills it as a mom with a career. She'll have the cutest kids that have the most fashionable outfits but also work for a company and people that respect her but also thrive with her. (Cue ahhhs)
AM: Ha, told you!
Do you have any advice for future fellows?
AM: Say yes to almost everything - that's how you get to know everyone!
ER: This sounds so Miss America- but be yourself and enjoy the process! I'm so basic.
AM: We want to get a latte maker, we're pretty basic. Good luck future fellows! :)
Receiving an Orr Fellowship interview is a big deal. If you’re among the lucky ones, congratulations!
As is the case through much of the Orr Fellowship recruitment process, Orr Fellowship interviews are not “run of the mill.” The Fellowship Board of Directors spreads out across Indiana and Ohio during the first few weeks of October to serve as interviewers. Most of them have been involved with the Fellowship since its inception. They know what they’re doing, and they really know what makes a good Orr Fellow.
If you’re like I was in the fall of 2012, the Orr Fellowship interview will be your first “real job” interview. In order to figure out how to navigate that daunting milestone, I did a lot of Google searching. I’m hoping to save you that trouble and also let you in on a few nuances of the Fellowship recruitment process.
Get to your interview early. Collect yourself and your thoughts. Make sure you give yourself an opportunity to take a moment before you walk into your interview.
2. Rock the first 30 seconds.
I’m all about first impressions. Make a good one. Enter the room confidently, speak clearly and smile. Be friendly, but don’t overdo it, especially not to the point that your friendliness appears fake. On that note:
3. Be real.
I think our generation has a remarkably easy time being real. We’re generally okay being ourselves. Except in interviews. While interviews (including those for the Orr Fellowship) are certainly formal settings, there’s no reason to hide who you are. You’re smart. You’re interesting. You’re probably pretty impressive. Show it.
4. Dress well.
Most Fellows work in startups. Lots of us (including me) wear jeans to work more than one day out of the week. I think casual attire does a lot for culture, but it doesn’t belong in your interview.
5. Get knowledgeable.
Sure, you’re not working yet. But there’s tons of news online about the Indianapolis tech and startup communities. And there’s a lot happening in the Indy tech community. Try to understand what’s going on here. It’ll help you ask the right questions and figure out whether or not you want to be a part of it. Read up!
6. Be prepared.
Arm yourself with copies of your resume and be very familiar with its contents. Choose nuggets of really applicable experience and familiarize yourself even further. Reflect on what you need to communicate in your interview and what you need to gain from it. Remember: while the interviewer is deciding whether you’re a good fit for the Fellowship, you should be deciding whether the Fellowship is a good fit for you. Do not memorize answers to standard interview questions you think your interviewer might ask. Even if he or she does ask those questions, it’ll be tough to convince your interviewer that you came up with that perfectly packaged answer on the spot.
7. Follow up.
The interview doesn’t end when you walk out the door. Follow up with the Fellowship recruitment lead at your school and your interviewer if you’d like. Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer for a business card so you can reach out to him or her directly. If you had a meaningful connection, refer to it. Check out my email to my interviewer for an example below (that apparently worked).
"I just wanted to send you a quick note thanking you for our interview last week. I very much appreciate the opportunity to be considered by the Orr Fellowship! Certainly, the fact that a program alumna is willing to serve on the Board of Directors and spend an entire day conducting interviews speaks volumes to the quality of the Fellowship. I hope you have a wonderful week!"
Good luck in your interview! I hope to see you at Reception on the Circle.
Connections—we all find energy, joy and inspiration from the people, places and things we connect to in our life. From a young age, we hope to connect with our fellow classmates and have someone to sit with at the lunch table. Later, we learn how to network and make connections among alumni of our university for internship and job opportunities. Working at brand experience design firm, KA+A, connectivity has taken on an entirely new meaning for me.
KA+A has had a long-standing partnership with innovative technology company, ExactTarget. As their annual event Connections approached—
The conference featured 4 days of inspiring keynotes, exciting product demos, and educational breakout sessions. Below are some of the highlights of the conference and involvement as a first-year Orr Fellow.
As an account representative for KA+A, most of my time was spent at our booth talking to potential clients. Tapping into the conference theme, "The Journey is the Reward" our designers created a digital landscape that included a starry sky lit with Pinterest & Twitter stars, as well as a cargo ship carrying various social media cargo such as Facebook and YouTube (as shown left), and other connected devices.
Beyond the booth, the common message that all the top marketing executives stressed was the future of marketing technology and a focus on creating personalized, 1:1 customer journeys. Different case studies from multinational brands were used to illustrate this point such as FitBit, LiveNation, McDonald's, and Diesel jeans. In addition to brands, a handful of celebrities also made an appearance. Entrepreneur, musician, and philanthropist, will.i.am
Later that evening, I had the opportunity to attend the Connections 2014 music festival hosted at Lucas Oil Stadium featuring The Script, and will.i.am (yes they played Hall of Fame together). will.i.am revealed his new technology on stage and DJed using his new wrist technology instead of a computer.
The final day of the conference featured bestselling author & video blogger, John Green, and acclaimed actress and bestselling author Mindy Kaling. Both celebrities humorously discussed their personal journeys, quest for authenticity, and interaction with social media.
Though the keynote speakers and topics were amazing, some of the best time was spent connecting with the KA+A team. Below is a humorous group photo taken together at the photo booth (I am the blonde girl in the pink cowgirl hat with the wand). Like the slogan for the conference, The Journey is the Reward, Connections 2014 was a whirlwind of marketing education, hard work, and fun.
8 year-old me waiting for dinner: “Dad, I’m starving.”
My Dad: “No, Sara, you’re not.”
I wasn’t really starving, but we’ve all said it. We’re human, we get hungry. But struggling with hunger? Actually not having food to put on the table? That’s another story.
Once in a while (yet not often enough) I catch myself thinking about the things that I take for granted. A roof over my head. Family. Friends. A paycheck. A car. Health. A safe drinking supply. Opportunity. Clothing. A coat when the weather gets cold. Food. The list goes on, but let’s focus on food for a minute – it’s the source of nutrition and sustenance that we all need in order to survive. While most of us are fortunate enough to benefit from some if not all of the above on a day-to-day basis, there are people in our own backyard, walking the same streets that we do, struggling to find something as simple as a hot nutritious meal at the end of a long day.
After volunteering with a group of Orr Fellows at Second Helpings, I found myself in one of these contemplative moods. The opportunity arose to contribute to a good cause alongside my Fellow peers and I thought, “New opportunity to get to know my new friends and new city better? Yes.” So I jumped at the chance, but knew next to nothing about the organization or its mission. In the end I walked away enlightened and grateful to be in a program and city that actively cares for others, and let me explain why.
First, here’s a question. Do you ever wonder what happens to the large amounts of food sitting on the shelves of wholesalers, restaurants, and retailers when the expiration date printed on the plastic wrapping creeps up faster than expected?
The answer: landfills.
At the same time, more than 80,000 children in the Indy metro area struggle with hunger and nearly 15% of senior citizens in Indiana face hunger – not even counting everyone in between.
Do we see the disconnect here?
In 1998, three Indianapolis chefs realized the potential to alleviate both these issues of hunger and unnecessary food waste with one solution: Second Helpings – a community kitchen.
Today an entire network of volunteers and staff members collect donated perishable and overstocked food, prepare nutritious meals for thousands of hungry children and adults each day, and then distribute them free of charge through local social service agencies in the Greater Indianapolis area. In addition, Second Helpings provides an avenue for unemployed and underemployed individuals to transform their lives through a culinary job training program.
We learned this and more during our first 15 minutes as we got a tour of the building, and then it was actually time to take part in the action. After we listened to the safety rules of the kitchen, put on our aprons and hats (or stylish hairnets for those who forgot a hat), we started chopping. Tomatoes at one table, beef at the other. Simple task, yes – but the results? Ready-to-go ingredients for the sauces, soups, stews, and more concocted by the chefs on the other side of the kitchen. I didn’t have time to watch the clock – I was too busy admiring those around me diligently working, selflessly giving their time to ensure healthy meals could be delivered to those in need. Every person we met had their own story, greeted us with a smile, thanked us for being there. It’s inspiring to see people care about something, then turn around and make great things happen.
I’ll let these numbers speak for themselves:
over 8 million meals have been prepared and delivered,
over 21 million pounds of food have been rescued,
volunteers have served for over 368,127 total hours,
and 579 individuals have graduated from the Culinary Job Training program.
Not only was I able to connect with my Fellow peers in a new setting, and contribute to a worthy cause, but I was also reminded of two valuable lessons that day:
Give thanks for what you have.
Give something of yourself to others – your time, it’s priceless.
“Life isn’t about getting and having, it’s about giving and being.” – Kevin Kruse
For Orr Fellows, leadership and determination aren't concepts limited to the workplace. While lessons learned in BLM's (business leadership meetings) and design thinking courses benefit the 9-5, a recent community event highlighted what happens when innovation meets community outreach. Last week, in partnership with Indy Hunger Network, Indy Do Day, and Elanco, the Orr Fellowship participated in a community outreach event like none other. Coined ‘Circling Hunger’ (or #circlinghunger for those of you on twitter) the event mobilized over 100 volunteers that convened at Monument Circle (the center of Downtown Indy) in unison, to promote Indy Do Day, a city-wide day of service, and to raise awareness surrounding the issue of hunger in our local community. The "flash mob" type of event has succeeded in generating media buzz around the city, and collected over 100 pounds of canned goods to be distributed throughout local food banks. Below is a short video of the successful and rewarding event.
Taking part in this event was an invigorating experience. From meeting with influential community leaders to being inspired by my peers at every turn, it has demonstrated the power of collaboration. Individually, societal problems such as hunger, homelessness, and poverty often seem insurmountable even at the most local level. However, as illustrated last week, it is possible to create a dedicated community coalition, start a discussion within the community, and make a material difference.
This year, the Orr Fellowship has taken steps to become more entrenched in the non-profit sector of Indianapolis, by creating a number of partnerships with local organizations. As young professionals, we recognize this city has already given us so much. It is our obligation to support the community around us, and to create opportunities for the next generation of innovators.
Participation in the Orr Fellowship opens up countless opportunities to become civically engaged within the local Indianapolis community and beyond. If you are a well-rounded student that desires work experience, volunteer opportunities, and a social network of likeminded individuals, I would encourage you to apply.
Are you a non-profit that the Fellowship could volunteer or partner with? Please send me an email at alex.tallentire@orrfellowship.
Phil Tarnowski is a first-year Orr Fellow and Marketing Specialist at host-company Performance Assessment Network (PAN Testing). Phil is the co-founder of career advice blog, Schooltime-to-Fulltime. The blog educates college students on how to land their dream job and prepare for the working world while in college. Please enjoy this guest blog post written by Phil on how to make the most out of college networking events.
College has many incredible networking opportunities. There are club events, job sessions, career fairs, and days where guest speakers come into classes. Many students are unsure how to approach these types of events. Here is how you can make the most out of college recruiting events:
Career fairs can be overwhelming. There are a huge amount of companies for you to talk to in a limited amount of time. To maximize your time, go into the career fair with a plan. Here is what you should do before every career fair:
If possible, send an email to recruiters of companies you are interested in before the career fair – most people do not send an email ahead of time, but it is a good way to stand out. Sending an email ahead of time will make recruiters look specifically for you because you sent them an email saying you look forward to talking to them at the career fair. It will give you a little bit of an introduction before you meet them in person, and it will also show recruiters you plan ahead.
Research the companies ahead of time – talking to recruiters about their company is much easier if you are knowledgeable about what they do. Recruiters like students who come prepared and are aware of the industry they operate in and what they do.
Prepare 5 specific questions for each company you want to talk to – while you will not be looking at a list while asking recruiters questions, you can always bring this list with you and look it over before you talk to the company.
Additionally, writing the questions before helps you think more about each individual company, which will make you a better conversationalist.Ask for business cards and what the next steps are – make sure you get contact information from the recruiter. By getting contact information, you can send a thank you email, and you can also send emails to express your continued interest in the job. Additionally, you should ask the next steps so you have an idea of the timeframe the company has for their recruiting process.
Job sessions are basically a lecture in a classroom about the company and the job description. Job sessions should be approached somewhat similarly to career fairs. You should always send an email to the recruiter before, saying you are looking forward to learning information about their company. You should also prepare questions and ask these questions when the Q&A session arrives. Additionally, it is important to stay after and talk to the recruiter so they meet you in person and know who you are.
Club Events/Guest Speakers
Club events and guest speakers are similar to job sessions, but they might be different depending on the situation. Sometimes these events are not actual recruiting events, but the company is just coming to teach about a certain topic. That being said, the guest speaker is still from a company and will know other people in the company. The main thing with these types of events is to engage in the discussion and to talk to the speaker after the event is over. Get a business card and try to stay in touch after the event.
The Main Point
College is a huge opportunity to network with companies. There are many great companies recruiting in close proximity to each other because of the large amount of students. If you prepare properly, you can make the most out of career fairs, job sessions, club events, and guest speakers.
The Orr Fellowship recently gathered at Langham Logistics for a Business Leader Meeting (BLM) with co-founder and CEO Cathy Langham. In addition to being a respected leader in the world of supply-chain process management, Langham has served as the chair of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and vice-chair of the Indianapolis Super Bowl XLVI committee. Additionally, her visibility among women-owned business enterprises (WBE) has earned her numerous accolades as a pioneering female CEO. Whether it be having lunch with Fidel Castro through a special economic envoy to Cuba in 2002 or hosting President George W. Bush for a tour of Langham Logistics in 2003, Cathy Langham’s career contains no shortage of fascinating highlights.
Over the period of 90 minutes, Langham shared the story of her career to Orr Fellows, sprinkling the presentation with a mixture of heartfelt guidance and humorous anecdotes. Following the meeting, she led a tour of Langham Logistics’ state-of-the-art facility. In order to have a successful and fulfilling career, she identified the following points of advice:
Never stop developing: Times “in between” the high points may not seem significant until later on, but they should be appreciated and constantly reflected upon for unexpected significance.
Learn to negotiate early on: With five of Langham’s six siblings involved with Langham Logistics, she acquired business communication skills and a quick knack for compromise from an early age.
Stay grounded: Through her experiences moving from a franchise owner to a private business leader, Langham consistently pushed herself and developed a plan B – even when success eventually emerged.
Be ready at all times: Don’t wait for the idea of the so-called “right moment” to seize opportunities. Pragmatism and the ability to think quickly is essential not only in the logistics industry but in all forms of business.
Shake it: Shaking hands and creating networks is an extremely valuable skill. Through her interactions with other female business leaders and contacts at the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, Langham caught the eye of President George W. Bush.
Shake it. Smoke it: Networking doesn’t end inside the United States borders, and sometimes it involves stepping outside of your comfort zone. Langham never thought she would be offered a cigar from Cuba’s most infamous dictator, but she credits her willingness to expand horizons for talking business with Fidel Castro.
Appreciate the power of “I do:” As the chief fundraiser for Indianapolis’ Super Bowl XLVI, Langham witnessed hundreds of the city’s business leaders selflessly come together and form a consensus. Like many of the past BLM hosts, Langham has a deep admiration for the Circle City.
Find your way: Langham has applied the process-oriented skills found in the supply chain industry to many external projects, including a select panel to expand Indiana’s transportation infrastructure. She believes in the power of creating a plan, asking questions, and reflecting on overall goals.
Listen intently: Like many other skills, listening requires practice. Instead of listening to simply remember what you are planning on saying next, Langham stresses the importance of listening to intricately understand the issue at hand.
Dream big, but the realities are often bigger.
Many thanks to Cathy Langham for taking her Wednesday night to share her story and experiences with the Orr Fellowship. As future entrepreneurs and developing members of the Indianapolis business community, we are grateful for her insight and hospitality!
I am not creative. I never have been. My brush with innovation and creativity was limited to the clay dragon I made in fourth grade art class. Yet, I’ve always thought of myself as a good thinker. As someone who can look at a problem and see it from different angles. So now I don’t know what I am. What I do know, after walking away from the two session Design Thinking workshop hosted by KSM Consulting (full disclosure: I also work there), is that there are different ways to approach problems and we often limit ourselves from the start.
The workshop started out with 50 or so “young-professionals” being told to bark various animal noises while tossing an imaginary basketball back and forth. The challenge for those who are already poor at basketball was immediately amplified without a ball. Looking around the room it was quite clear who felt inhibited by this visibly foolish behavior (myself included) and those who were buying into the animalism.
The brief exercise highlighted many of the problems hindering open and productive brainstorming. Some of us were afraid of the judgment of onlookers and limited ourselves to small movements and inaudible sounds. The same often occurs during brainstorming sessions. The concept, “there’s no such thing as a bad idea,” is often lost within minutes. One person’s ideas will be subjected to immediate scoffing while someone else will continually laud their own.
What it takes to breakdown those barriers is what Design Thinking aims to teach. It is less about thinking and more about behaving differently.
Be less critical of ideas.
Allow for unusual yet innovative thought.
Develop and build upon the bizarre.
Imagine an idea to be a person who walks into a room wearing feather boas, carrying a dozen different colored lights, and wearing a cone for a hat. She’d be laughed at and mocked. Don’t laugh-- work to understand, and become empathetic. The same should be done when working with a group, sharing ideas, and trying to solve a problem.
Thanks to Mark Caswell, John Roach, Dan Moyers, and the entire KSM Consulting Team for hosting the Orr Fellowship for an introduction to Design Thinking.
..Or so I heard. Last fall I entered my senior year of college and immediately began planning for “life after DePauw.” I loved my college experience so much that I couldn’t imagine the transition from life as a coed to life as a 9-5’er. Questions I asked myself: How am I going to manage without my core group of friends, social scene, and familiar class work? What makes the “real world” such a mystifying place? Is it possible to do a fifth year? Yes, that last thought was a little dramatic but nonetheless true.
And then came the Orr Fellowship. A good friend of mine was a current Fellow, and she encouraged me to apply by reminding me that “the first step is submitting information and your resume. It takes 10 seconds.” And she was right (pause from reading, and apply here)! As I continued with the recruitment process at Reception on the Circle and Finalist Day, I was happy to find myself surrounded by smart, motivated, diverse, successful, and fun people. In hindsight, the time it took to apply was 10 seconds very well spent.
A few months later I accepted my offer to become an Orr Fellow. A few months after that, I graduated from DePauw and started my new j-o-b. I quickly realized that the real world is not the boring, monotonous place that post-grads tweet about – a fact that I largely attribute to my involvement in the fellowship. As I mentioned, I was worried about the prospect of not having a core group of friends. But the Fellowship is an immediate friend base. For instance, Monday nights I play on an Orr softball team. I had never stepped foot on a softball field before this league, but that doesn’t matter because the Fellows still talk to me after I drop a pop-fly or strike out. What’s more, many of us live within blocks of each other and of Broad Ripple, making getting together almost too easy. I recently attended a boating and camping trip over Labor Day Weekend with Fellows, and will attend a Colts game and winter fORRmal later in the year.
Somewhere between the softball games and staycations, I do indeed have a professional life. The Fellowship provides peer networking opportunities, such as a Design Thinking Workshop and Case Competition. These opportunities provide informal outlets to learn from and work with other Orr Fellows – a unique experience for recent college graduates. The Fellowship also hosts Business Leader Meetings that allow us to network with some of Indiana’s most talented business leaders.
When I am not socializing or networking with the Fellows, I work as a Human Resources Associate at Milhaus. Although most post-grad problems include the monotony of getting up and working five days a week, I enjoy my job and trust that the Orr recruitment process landed me exactly where I need to be. When I was a senior, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do after college, but now I can’t imagine anything else. So don’t be scared by the real word. Instead, embrace the opportunity to meet new people, establish your adult life, and bring a whole new meaning to Sunday Funday.
I graduated from Anderson University with a core group of friends that all happened to be science majors. It’s not that I am anti-associating with other disciplines, those were just the people I spent the most time with. College memories, for me, are filled with late night study sessions, endless nutrient agar plates, frantic chalkboard diagrams, and the occasional chemical explosion.
Science majors are a weird breed. We have this insane desire to understand how everything works. For example, I recently went Putt-Putting with some friends from work. Halfway through, I found myself contemplating how much planning went into this particular Putt-Putt course. Obviously, these were not random mounds! Designers spent time calculating the average speed with which a golf ball is hit. They then strategically placed the hole and obstacles to allow for the possibility of a hole in one. Par values were calculated from equations; they were not arbitrary values. I mentioned this, and the fact that the skeletons decorating the course were anatomically incorrect. My work friends rolled their eyes and continued playing.
Science majors pride themselves on a knowledge set that a minute part of the population cares about. We fantasize about grandeur and are haunted by the prospect of medical or graduate school. We like to pretend that we are smarter, but secretly, we are just as scared as everyone else. We know a lot of facts, but rarely have “street smart” experience.
I like to be well-rounded. I was a Biology and Psychology major with a Spanish minor thrown in for good measure. However, I lacked street smarts and professional experience. Ask me a question and I can construct an experiment to answer it. Ask me how to write professional emails and network effectively, I get a little skittish.
Heading into senior year, I was conflicted. I knew I wanted to go to graduate school, but I was not sure which program to choose. I was not sold on the idea of signing up for five more years in the laboratory setting. Besides, many of the programs I considered asked for professional experience. How was I supposed to get any of that? I knew what I liked, but I did not know how that translated into a career. Then, I stumbled upon the Orr Fellowship.
The Fellowship was my perfect solution. It gave me the opportunity to gain valuable experience in a fast paced environment. I was selected by Orbis Education, a company that works at the intersection of Healthcare and Education. I now have two years to grow personally and professionally before making a decision as life-changing as graduate school.
There is a reason that graduate programs ask for professional experience. You learn things in the working world that are impossible to learn anywhere else. My first three months have been a whirlwind. I have learned different software systems, various business terminologies, and how to work on a team to accomplish tasks.
Yes, there was a steep learning curve. But, I think science majors easily make the transition into the business world. We have been trained to think critically and understand all of the working parts of a system: necessary skills in any environment.
I am going to be honest, not every day is a picnic. Some days I miss devouring textbooks and I dream about graduate school. However, I know I made the right decision. I simply was not ready to take that step. I think a lot of college seniors, not just science majors, are in that boat.
Who knows exactly where I will be in a few years. What I do know is that whether or not I choose graduate school, I will be 100% confident in my decision. I will know beyond a shadow of a doubt if that is the program for me. And, along the way, I will have had an amazing experience with the Orr Fellowship.
So, I encourage you to take a chance and apply. Broaden your perspective. Allow yourself to mature and grow outside of the college environment. Besides, the application is just a resume, what do you have to lose?
When I first received the names of the companies that I was going to be interviewing with on the Orr Fellowship Finalist Day, I was surprised to see DigitalRelevance on the list of companies that was interested in me. Why you ask? Because DigitalRelevance is a marketing agency and I had zero qualifications to work there.
- I did not have a marketing degree
- I had zero industry experience
- No relevant internships
- Nothing on my resume even suggested I was interested in marketing
What my resume demonstrated was a clear history of leadership, experience with technology and changing industries, and a hunger to learn. These qualifications, along with a great interview was enough to convince DigitalRelevance to take a chance and extend me an offer.
A little background on DigitalRelevance and what we do: DigitalRelevance is an online marketing agency that creates earned media pieces to drive organic traffic to client’s websites. This all makes perfect sense right? Don’t worry I had to do about 30 minutes of Googling to find out exactly what DigitalRelevance did before my interview. In a nutshell our agency creates content (any type of digital media) that will engage both the final audience and key industry influencers with a final goal of making a website rank higher on Google’s result pages. It all boils down to getting clients to rank #1 on Google.
When I was hired the management team gave me the option choose one of four positions: Client Campaign Manager, Media Outreach Specialist, Inbound Marketing Consultant, and Media Editor/Writer. I chose to become an Inbound Marketing Consultant. In a nutshell I am responsible for data collection, analytics, and campaign tracking. This position had a strong degree of fit with my background and personal strengths.
So how has it gone so far you ask? I could not have asked for a better experience! I have been placed in a situation where I get to be personally responsible for huge Fortune 500 accounts. It is truly a sink or swim environment. There was no formal training process. I learned by working on reporting and deliverables with senior consultants to pick up how our industry operates. This is the type of education I felt like I missed out on at Big Ten School. My formal education was hands-off and I desired more one-on-one learning opportunities. This is the type of environment that somebody like myself thrives in.
Even though I had zero marketing background I have found working at DigitalRelevance through the Orr Fellowship to be both energizing and exiting day in, day out. I learn so much everyday and continue to learn more about myself and what I am capable of as a professional. If you are ever given the opportunity take a job in an unfamiliar industry I encourage everyone to embrace the challenge!
Recent college graduates typically look to those at least twice their age for career advice: parents, professors, and mentors. We will often overlook some of our greatest advisors—our peers. Due to the nature of the Orr Fellowship, it is not uncommon for recent grads to find valuable mentors who are only a few years their senior.
At the Orr Fellowship Class of 2014’s onboarding, first-year Fellows had the opportunity to hear from some former Fellows that are already rising to success.
Sally Reasoner, a Fellow from the class of 2011, is one of those spritely successes. Sally’s latest role is now working to develop the talent of the Indiana tech community. As the IndyX Initiative Lead at TechPoint, she manages efforts to both retain the technically skilled individuals from Indiana universities and recruit established technical professionals back to the state.
A huge supporter of the Fellowship, Sally was eager to share some of her early, yet inspiring, career experiences. Like many curious and confused Fellows that pass through the program, Sally had an idea of what her career would look like, both before and after graduation from the Fellowship:
“I originally planned on going to law school. But then I decided to postpone for two years and enroll after the Fellowship.”
Her plans changed, however, after she connected with TechPoint CEO, Mike Langellier:
He joked, “That’s cute you think you’re going to law school... No, you’re coming to work for TechPoint.”
And so Sally did. It is this type of serendipity that makes the mechanism of the Fellowship work. Of course, it has fantastic leadership from its board, exceptional host companies to supply the parts, passionate Fellows to power the machine, and a blossoming Indianapolis technology scene to lay the track. Even so, it takes a little something else to make this apparatus tick:
“Invest in your peers.”
That was the advice Langellier passed on to Sally, which she then echoed to the first-year Fellows. Such a simple sentiment, but that is where the spark of the program comes from. The Orr Fellowship thrives on its network: both internally and externally within the Indianapolis community.
Let her words be a call to action for both recent and future college grads: True value in business comes from the quality of relationships that we build. In addition to building lasting friendships and relationships, keeping an open mind about our career paths can be the most rewarding career goal. By devoting ourselves to professional and personal growth, amidst a network of likeminded individuals, the possibilities are vast and exciting.
When asked to name your strengths you probably don’t list words like connectedness, activator, or woo. After taking the Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment, myself and the other first-year Fellows have a new way to describe our strengths that might include words like these. Debra Jones walked us through our new found strengths at the second part of our Orr Fellowship onboarding. Debra is currently the President and CEO of Performant Solutions, a human resources and leadership development company. She has also worked as a Global Director of Human Resources at Orr Fellow host company, Interactive Intelligence.
After reading Strength Finder 2.0 and taking the personality quiz, each of us was awarded 5 of 34 possible adjectives to describe our personality. We were then able to compare and contrast our strengths to better understand who we are professionally. Debra explained that a strength is something you do repeatedly, happily, and successfully. Often times, the world teaches us to focus on our weaknesses: which leaves us feeling frustrated and discouraged. Learning to hone our strengths and identify our weaknesses is a much more likely path to success.
By working in your strengths you will find new enthusiasm for your work. Engagement is 73-80% more likely when you are able to work in your strengths. On the flip side, there is only a 9% chance of being engaged if you are forced to focus on your weaknesses. Communicating your strengths clearly to your manager can be helpful when trying to incorporate them into your day-to day regimen.
Another way to look at it is that your strengths are your professional competitive advantage. You want to find ways to use your strengths to excel on a daily basis. This can be organizing a task before getting started, having a conversation with a co-worker, or setting achievable goals to encourage your competitive side. While it is impossible to ignore your weaknesses, you should work to find a balance and recognize that it is impossible to be good at everything.
So next time you feel like you’re in a rut, take a step back and try to look at it from a different angle. If you have a “woo” personality go talk with someone you don’t know very well; if being a learner is one of your strengths, have an interesting book near your desk to help motivate you. Whatever your strength, embrace it, live it, and work in it.
I have a confession: I’m an English major from Maryland. (Yes, I realize that you’re now going to scour this blog post and grin with smug satisfaction when you find a grammatical error, but maybe that means you’ll at least read the whole thing instead of skimming it for something interesting.)
Let me guess what you’re thinking: “Why aren’t you a teacher? Isn’t that what all English majors do? How did an East Coast-er like you end up joining an entrepreneurial business program in Indiana working for a software company when you don’t even like e-readers because they’re just not the same as a normal book?” …but I digress.
- Teaching can be an awesome and rewarding profession. I just don’t want to be a teacher.
- I stand by my preference for traditional books. You can’t have bookshelves full of e-books, and who doesn’t want an awesome library?
- Let me explain.
I came to Indiana kicking and screaming. I know that’s cliché, but the screaming part actually isn’t that far off the mark. My parents attended Indiana University, loved it, and wanted me to have the same amazing experience, so they graciously offered to fund my college tuition – if I attended IU. Grateful daughter that I am, I thanked them for their generosity and applied to only one school.
The first semester was rough. I was homesick and missed my family, people from the Midwest didn’t understand my sarcastic “East Coast” sense of humor (and of course that’s their fault, not mine, right?), and I felt friendless and uncomfortable in my new surroundings. I debated transferring back to Maryland.
Second semester arrived, however, and things started getting easier. I made new friends, immersed myself in my classes, and got involved with organizations on campus. By senior year, I was VP of Leadership Development for Panhellenic Association, the largest women’s organization on campus, and had formed friendships that I’m confident will last my entire life. With this independence, confidence, and happiness within a university I had come to love came a new sense of apprehension: what next?
Panicked about the future, I learned about the Orr Fellowship through a friend and applied because, honestly, I didn’t know what else to do. As I worked through the recruitment process I sometimes wondered what I was doing, but one aspect of the program kept bringing me back: the people. Everyone I met seemed enthused about his or her experience, the social environment reminded me of the student organizations I belonged to in college, and frankly, I didn’t want to start out on my own again. So I joined the Orr Fellowship. And yes, I joined at least partially for the social safety net and proximity to my college friends in Indianapolis, and ended up working for a software company.
So where does an English major fit in at a company that provides a point of sale and inventory management software solution to retailers?(Yeah, I didn’t know what it meant at first either). My first projects at RICS Software involved “content creation,” which is a fancy marketing term that, loosely translated, means “writing stuff” like ebooks and whitepapers (Translation: articles about industry topics). My first attempts were shaky, but after a few months, I became more comfortable discussing retail technology and trends.
Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t an entirely smooth transition. Even now, there are days I love my job and days I hate it. And that’s okay. When I’m unhappy, I’ve found it’s usually because there’s something wrong with my way of approaching my work, and that realization has been the most important learning experience during my fledgling career.
In the past year, my role has expanded to include building lead nurturing email campaigns, constructing our editorial calendar, creating brand guidelines, standardizing terminology, and more. Right now, I’m in the early phases of restructuring our client-facing Knowledge Base to be a more effective and supportive tool for our Product Consulting team. This has nothing to with my college degree, but it’s the most energizing and exciting project I’ve had thus far because the leadership team at RICS encouraged me to find a problem in the company and form my own project to fix it. The independence and ownership of my work is invigorating. And despite my liberal arts degree (or perhaps, because of it), I’m handling it just fine.
Here’s my point: with the Orr Fellowship, our companies don’t hire us because we have specific skills and training. They hire us because we’re smart, driven individuals with a knack for problem solving and a natural curiosity that keeps us learning, evolving, and making a difference wherever we can. We tackle whatever’s thrown at us with enthusiasm and dedication.
So if you’re a liberal arts student who wants a challenge that pushes you out of your comfort zone, apply to the Orr Fellowship. You’re not the only one who benefits – companies need well-rounded employees and they value diverse backgrounds. Don’t let the technological and business foundations of many of the companies scare you away – I almost let that happen and it would have been a huge mistake.
My most important learning experiences have originated from discomfort, and I encourage you to take the plunge and try something new for two years. You just might surprise yourself.
And if you’re a business student who’s contemplating becoming an artist after reading this blog post because you want the chance to experience discomfort in order to become a more well-rounded person… don’t be stupid. Apply for the Fellowship, get some experience, become an entrepreneur and start your own company eventually. You’ll get your fair share of risk and discomfort; don’t you worry.
This past June I kicked off my journey as a first-year Fellow with the annual SummOrr Retreat at Rawhide Ranch in Brown County. We did a variety of activities to help us become more acquainted with the program, as well as each other. One of my favorite moments was when we were given the “simple task” of building a 50 piece puzzle as fast as possible. As soon as our retreat facilitator, Pat, gave us the go-ahead, we frantically began pouring out the pieces on the table. On my team, we followed the usual technique to find all the edges and corners first. We then noticed that we were short a few pieces...and on top of that we had SpongeBob pieces that had no place in our Avengers puzzle!
Our first reaction was to scream in frustration, particularly at Pat, that we had been cheated in this game! Then, as we looked around, we noticed the room erupt into chaos as the other teams were having the same problem. It wasn’t long before most teams figured out that their missing pieces were scattered across the room amongst the other teams’ puzzles. Certain individuals began running around with their extra pieces and were trading them for the pieces they needed in return. As the chaos settled and teams began to finish their puzzles, we saw teams switching tables to help the others finish. It was a magnificent sight to see teamwork at its best-Fellows were going beyond their individual team task to help complete the overall big picture, or should I say puzzle?
Throughout the rest of the retreat we did activities that focused on communication, diversity, and even completed a scavenger hunt across our great city. There were times throughout the retreat I wondered, “What value does this have for me as a Fellow?” However, when the weekend was over and I was on my way to work on Monday morning, I began to reflect on the retreat. It was then that I realized the value in each “piece” of the retreat and that, when put together, it creates a picture of the Orr Fellowship: a puzzle of intertwined characteristics, people, values, and ideas. Beyond that, each person adds their own unique piece to the puzzle. We all come from a variety of backgrounds, schools and disciplines that give us each a distinct shape to fit perfectly into the Orr Fellowship. Professional development seminars, case study competitions, and monthly Business Leader Meetings with the greatest minds in Indianapolis, are other integral pieces to the puzzle. These activities and opportunities are so unique that they act as a piece that can only be found in one complete puzzle; The Orr Fellowship.
The best part is that we all have to contribute to make this beautiful puzzle a reality. There are still a few more missing pieces. Are you a missing piece?
Orr Fellows climbed to the top of the Monument for the scavenger hunt.
Each month, Fellows gather for business leader meetings (BLM)—an opportunity to learn from talented and successful entrepreneurs in the Indianapolis area. Recently, strategic design consultancy, KA+A, hosted nearly 70 Fellows at their downtown office on Monument Circle. Kristian Andersen—designer, founder, and investor—shared his business acumen in an interactive Q&A format. The Fellows enjoyed the candid conversation (along with the craft beer on tap).
As KA+A’s first Orr Fellow, I’ve witnessed the impressive resume and life Kristian leads. Kristian splits his time between Indianapolis and Arkansas where he beautifully manages the design firm, his venture capital fund, and a family of five, soon to be six, children.
In addition to his work at KA+A, Kristian is deeply involved in the Indianapolis startup community as an active angel investor and co-founder of Gravity Ventures. The co-founder of startups TinderBox, Lessonly, Visible.vc and Pathagility. In addition, Kristian co-founded the Speak Easy and Indy Made, initiatives to help connect and grow the startup community. Kristian has long been a fan and supporter of the Orr Fellowship. So much so, that he founded the Arkansas Fellowship, inspired by our beloved Indianapolis program.
First-year Fellow, Ben Roess, moderated the conversation. Some of Kristian’s most memorable advice is included below:
Q: Have you always known you wanted to go into design?
Yes. Ever since I was seven-years-old. Though I grew up without a telephone in my room, my dad bought me the first color Mac computer which set me on a collision course between design and technology for the rest of my life.
Q: Is there anything that you would have done differently? Any advice for 22-year-olds that you have learned through your experiences?
1) I wonder what would have happened if I had sat at the feet of the master for a few years. I immediately went into freelancing and the creation of the design firm. I had no idea how to make sales calls, prospect, and had to fumble and scrape my knees for a few years to learn.
2) Figure out what you want to be famous for early on in life, and find the smartest people to teach you how to do it. Surround yourself with smart people and good things will happen.
3) There are three great lies that people perpetuate in life about being successful.
1. Everyone needs to go to college
2. Own a home
3. Follow passion
The phrase “follow your passion” is fundamentally flawed because we think that passion is something we love. In fact, passion comes from the Latin word, meaning “to suffer.” Rather than do what you love (terrible advice), find something in life that is so great you’re willing to suffer for it.
Q: You commute back and forth between Indianapolis and Arkansas. Can you tell us a little bit about how you achieve the work-life balance?
Well, first-off, there is no such thing as a work-life balance. Work is life, life is work. It is a daily struggle to remain focused. You need to find people who love you enough to remind you what you believe in. For me, this person is my wife, Brandi, who has the authority, freedom, and grace to remind me.
Q: Why is Indianapolis your favorite city in the world?
Though the infrastructure of Indianapolis hasn’t changed much, the spirit, economic development, excitement, and pride have all grown over the past decade. Indianapolis crushes other cities in terms of growth and wealth creation, which is primarily due to startups. Indy has experienced over $5 billion in new wealth creation over the last five years, all from companies that started in someone’s basement. Ten years ago there were not many angel investors to be found in Indianapolis, and now there is a startup being funded daily in the city.
Sitting on the far side of the restaurant was a first-year Orr Fellow. At a table in the middle sat three Orr Fellow alumni, sharing a celebratory sendoff meal for one of them, who was heading off to a top ranked MBA program. It’s possible that this noticeable concentration of Orr Fellows was a result of this establishment’s exceptional cinnamon toast. I prefer another theory.
I believe that the types of people who are attracted to the Orr Fellowship, and to whom the Orr Fellowship is attractive, are those who arrive at breakfast spots before the doors are unlocked, to get a jump on their day. Fellows are the ones who you will see moving around town with a purpose, from one meeting to another.
Although many of us are transplants to this city, we are an engaged group. At times we may even appear to be among the most tenured residents. We are present in all corners of this Circle City. A remarkable element of the Orr Fellows, both past and present, is their palpable interest in this community. Something would be amiss if a group of Fellows were in the same room and the conversation failed to touch on current events.